After reading a discussion thread this evening, it sparked this entry...
Why are there many - more than a few, which is more than enough - who try so hard to not be found out in this business?
We can work our way through every aspect of this business and recognize those so-called professionals - on either side of the footlights - who we truly shake our heads about and wonder WHY they keep getting hired.
I am thinking directors tonight...
I know some MARVELOUS stage directors - from opera to theatre to cabaret. I direct. I have worked with some fabulous directors. I also know and have known, some absolute PILLS who keep getting hired, yet have no respect for singers or what they do or how they do it, and are NOT professional in their ability and vision and execution of that vision.
What is WITH THAT?!?!?!?
These not-special directors put such a cloud over the profession and REAL directors - who listen, who recognize, who have real talent and real people skills (!) are often overlooked and dismissed.
I believe every director who wishes to be an opera director or music theatre director needs to SING. He/she needs to study voice and BE directed so he/she understands what can be done, what should be done, and what is RIDICULOUS to be asked for.
We often speak of the "difficult artist" and yet, those trying hard not to be found out (ie: that they are actual frauds, or simply, inadequate, ordinary, etc) are often much more difficult than any singer or actor would dream of being.
We are often pegged as "difficult" because we ask for clarification; because we say "no, I can't do that"; "why am I doing that?"; or even arguing to get answers!
That's not being difficult!!! That's trying to protect your performance, your voice, your body, your instrument!!!! Often, those personalities who are most difficult in a production can be the ones trying hard not to be found out - who aren't particularly talented, able, visionary...And many times, those personalities sit in the director's chair!
When a director's "concept" outweighs everything else; when a choreographer/director puts his/her performer's at physical risk; when a director's "vision" can't be seen internally and has to be "staged" first and then dismantled; these are all red flags of trying hard not to be found out. And sadly, they hide behind their singers/actors - making them the sacrificial lambs! - and they hide behind their production staff.
A great director recognizes he/she leads a team - and it is the vision of that team that creates success, and trust in a production!! The team of lighting, costume, SM, ASM, sound, props, sets et al is CRUCIAL for a production's success. It is not a place to hide, but many try to.
Ironically, the entire team and the entire company sees it clearly. If the team and company is committed to a truth, they make it work - and the director gets the glory. Good lord.
The best combo of ordinary is the director-choreographer. That person who has never sung has only moved. And maybe not well. And always with the mediocre ones, (because there are great director/choreographers) they seem to feel like they must make each cast member pay for that mediocrity!
If a director is great, he/she will welcome input - and will go through staging and reasons and blocking and reasons, and vision and reasons, and characterization and reasons. EVERYTHING will have a reason. EVERYTHING will have been thought out. He/she will welcome the input of the singers in order to draw the BEST from the players. He/she creates that trust and ultimately the success of the production.
Directors need to be challenged if they are asking of their players something that puts them in jeopardy. They need to be challenged when the player cannot find the motivation. It is up to the director to LEAD.
Great directors are true LEADERS. They know how to draw out of every individual - lead, company, stage team - the BEST and the INDIVIDUALITY and know how to use that talent/skill/craft to its fullest for the vision of the production, and thus, the execution of the production.
Great directors do not belittle. They do not degrade. They do not abuse.
Great directors BUILD UP. They see the large picture and then can bring each shot into focus and into detail while they collaborate with the singer!
THEY TAKE TIME, they don't WASTE time. They know WHY. They don't guess. They CREATE. They don't pretend.
If more directors would work toward developing this dedication, the directors who shouldn't be there, wouldn't be there. There simply would be no room for them, and no excuse for them.
If more directors would respect the singer for what they CAN do they would find more singers WILLING to try new ideas. They would also find more ideas based on what makes sense musically, vocally, physically and athletically in each character, and in each singer who embodies that character!
If more directors would learn to truly communicate and lead instead of bully or dismiss - singers would sing!
There are great directors out there - but sadly they often get lumped into murky waters because they are so few and far between!!!
Singers are NOT difficult. The difficulty lies in those trying hard not to be found out - and if those who work so hard not to be found out would actually take that energy and find real craft and real directorship skills and real vision - they would be seen for something real instead of something pretend.
It's theatre after all people! Quit pretending!
Susan Eichhorn Young
Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking.
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